Monday, 3 February 2014

AAA Grammy Nominees (Top Twelve, News Views and Music 231)

I'm still in shock! The Gramophone Awards - better known as the Grammies, awarded for the 'song of the year' - are due to be announced for '2014' any minute now (for some strange reason an award is always given for the year after a song was released). The awards are given to 'honour artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position." Which still doesn't explain how the likes of 'Rehab' and 'Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)' were proclaimed two of the best songs of the past ten years (even by modern standards, both songs are truly truly awful). As we head into the award's 56th year I thought I'd have a look at how many AAA stars have won the coveted title - and the answer is two. Two!!! The Beatles only won one throughout their career (and probably not the one you're expecting...), Neil Young only got a single nomination their whole careers and bands like the Pink Floyd and Oasis didn't even get that. Frankly most big music fans consider the award a joke now: it's about the most cover versions and radio airplay a song gets rather than any real artistic worth, but the awards aren't completely wasted (The Spice Girls didn't get a single nomination either, thank goodness). So here, in chronological order, are the AAA 'nominations' year by year including the two (TWO????!!!) entries that actually won something...

1965: The Beatles "A Hard Day's Night" (Nomination)

Proof of the age of the panels used to vote on the songs comes from the shock that the record-breaking run of singles The Beatles released before this ('Please Please Me' 'She Loves You' 'I want To Hold Your Hand' 'I Feel Fine' and 'Can't Buy Me Love') didn't even get a nomination. 'AHDN' presumably won because of all the fuss around it - it was the title song from a successful film (which automatically made the single more respectable to 1964 ears) and wasn't necessarily about teenage romance for the first time. The song lost out to Louis Armstrong's cover of 'Hello Dolly!'

1966: The Beatles "Yesterday" (Nomination)

Yes I'm surprised too - The Beatles may not have released 'Yesterday' as a single (well not in Europe at least) but surely it's obvious from the sheer volume of instant cover versions of this song that it was a 'classic' and appealed to a whole new audience who'd never got into the Beatles before? Apparently not - the song lost out to Tony Bennett's song 'Shadows OF Your Mind'.

1967: The Beatles "Michelle" (Winner)

This one's really confused me - perhaps realising their mistake in passing over 'Yesterday' the Grammies tried to make amends by rewarding another Lennon-McCartney song. However they clearly didn't like anything on the 1966 fab four album 'Revolver' and went back two years to 'Michelle' (off 'Rubber Soul'). Cute as 'Michelle' is, even McCartney doesn't rate it too highly, acknowledging that the song actually started life as a 'joke' song with cod french he came up with to impress 'arty types' at parties. Remember they could have given the award to 'Here There and Everywhere' 'Tomorrow Never Knows' 'We Can Work It Out' 'Day Tripper' or 'Eleanor Rigby' (and that's just the Beatle songs that deserved to win from 1966...)

1969: The Beatles "Hey Jude" (Nomination)

Even the people behind the Grammies couldn't ignore 'Hey Jude' - the biggest selling single up to that point in record history, the longest number one single by some margin and the first release on a new record label (The Beatles' own Apple) that set trends from the first (Apple had a 50% number one rate for their first year, a feat never even close to being replicated before or since). And yet they gave the record to, err, O C Smith's 'Little Green Apples' (no I don't know it either - perhaps they saw the 'Apple' logo and got confused?!)

1969: Simon and Garfunkel "Mrs Robinson" (Nomination)

Another successful single from a successful film, 'Mrs Robinson' might not be S+G at their very best but it did the job it needed to of selling 'The Graduate' and being more commercial than anything else the pair did. Did it deserve to win? Probably not against 'Hey Jude', but certainly it possesses more longevity than 'Little Green Apples'...

1971: The Beatles "Let It Be" (Nomination)

Fair enough I suppose - the Beatles end their career by getting a nomination with their last single (which it might shock you to learn never made #1 in the UK but #3), but lose out to an even better known and selling song. As it happens there's a link - both songs have a gospel theme and Lennon was actually quite dismissive of 'Let It Be' when he first heard it, reckoning Macca pinched it directly from 'Bridge' (actually the song was first demoed a few months before the Simon and Garfunkel classic)...

1971: Simon and Garfunkel "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (Winner)

....Which means the second and final AAA winner on the list is the all-conquering 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. The song was a natural choice, being everywhere in 1970 and staying at the UK number one for a mammoth seven weeks (they always say these awards are given out irrelevant of charts and record sales but that sounds ridiculous: we'd have a whole list of obscure songs nobody knew if that was truly the case). This is, of course, S+G's 'farewell' song too...

1972: Janis Joplin "Me and Bobby McGee" (Nomination)

Is it just me or is 'Bobby McGee' actually about the least successful record Janis Joplin ever made? A strange choice for release as a posthumous single, it remains her biggest hit wihich is nothing short of a travesty when compared to the brilliance of 'Piece Of My Heart' and 'Ball and Chain'. Just as the single became popular because Janis sadly died in 1970, so surely this nomination came about for the same reasons. It lost out to Carole King and James Taylor's 'You've Got A Friend', which would make sense had the two songs actually been release the same year (Janis' came out in 1970 almost a full year before 'Friend'...)

1973: Gilbert O'Sullivan "Alone Again (Naturally)" (Nomination)

Gilbert must have thought he'd made it, scoring not only a number one hit with his first single but his one and only Grammy nomination too. The song lost out to Roberta Flack's cover of Ewan Maccoll's 'First Time I Ever Saw Your Face', which is fair enough I suppose although it's actually about the worst version of this gorgeous song around...

1983: Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder "Ebony and Ivory" (Nomination)

Now we know they're playing games with us - seriously, the only song from Paul McCartney's solo career to get nominated was the now universally reviled 'Ebony and Ivory'? (well somebody must have liked it I suppose: it did make #2 in the UK charts after all, but seriously, it deserved a nomination when 'Another Day' 'Live and Let Die' 'My Love' 'Band On The Run' 'Jet' 'Silly Love Songs' 'Mull of Kintyre' and 'Coming Up' didn't?!) Presumably the Grammy board thought they could help two artists with one nomination, as it were, with Stevie Wonder getting his only ever nomination too (and again, almost all of his work is preferable to this song). Shockingly though the award for 1983 went to an even worse song: Willie Nelson's 'Always On My Mind'.

1986: Dire Straits "Money For Nothing" (Nomination)

Surely 'Sultans Of Swing' should have won in 1978 right? Wrong apparently. Nor did 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Private Investigations' (two of the biggest selling songs of the decade) receive one either. Dire Straits in fact only got one nomination for this song - and presumably that, too, was because they shared a co-credit with Sting (who didn't actually have much to do with the song at all, thank goodness). The song predictably lost out to the 'USA for Africa' super-group's 'Heal The World', even though it was a pale substitute for Band Aid's 'Don't They Know It's Christmas?', technically giving Paul Simon his second grammy win for his one-line performance on the record.

1987: Paul Simon "Graceland" (Nomination)

Paul Simon's back again with the title track of 1986's most famous album. Again, you have to question any panel of judges that pass over such gems as 'Something So Right' 'Mother and Child Reunion' 'Still Crazy After All These Years' 'Slip Sliding Away' and 'Hearts and Bones' for what it really a lesser song, but okay (Paul's other single of 1986, 'The Boy In The Bubble', really deserved the win that year). Paul ended up losing out to Dianne Warwick and 'Friends' take on 'What Are Friends For' instead (again the victory has gone to a song that isn't even remembered these days...)

1994: Neil Young "Harvest Moon" (Nomination)

Finally, it's another surprise: Neil Young didn't get nominated for 'After The Goldrush' 'Heart Of Gold' or even 'Like A Hurricane' but instead got the nomination for a song that wasn't even released as a single. 'Harvest Moon' was certainly a return to form of sorts, but did it really deserve the nod over those over classics down the years? Well, maybe - 1992 was hardly a vintage year after all - but why oh why was this song held over to represent 1993 9and thus get the award in 1994?) It lost out to another '?!?' entry in Peabo Bryson and Patti Belle's forgotten single 'A Whole New World'.

And that's that for another issue. Whether we're covering award winners or forgotten gems by our AAA stars you can be sure that we'll be bringing it to you all throughout 2014 and beyond. Ciao for now!

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